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Journal cover: Journal of Service Management

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818
Previously published as: International Journal of Service Industry Management

Online from: 1995

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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Coping with customer aggression


Document Information:
Title:Coping with customer aggression
Author(s):Ruhama Goussinsky, (Department of Human Services, Emek Yezreel College, Afula, Israel)
Citation:Ruhama Goussinsky, (2012) "Coping with customer aggression", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 23 Iss: 2, pp.170 - 196
Keywords:Affective psychology, Customer aggression, Emotion-focused coping strategies, Individual behaviour, Israel, Negative affectivity, Self-efficacy
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/09564231211226105 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of this research is to investigate the direct and moderating effect of negative affectivity (NA) (Study 1) and self-efficacy (Study 2) on the relationship between customer verbal aggression and three forms of emotion-focused coping strategies: behavioral disengagement, seeking emotional support, and venting negative emotions.

Design/methodology/approach – Two samples of service workers were recruited from northern Israel in 2007-2008 (n=178 and n=516), and data were collected using self-reported questionnaires. Research hypotheses were tested using hierarchical regression analyses.

Findings – The results show that under high levels of exposure to customer aggression, employees with high NA were more likely to use behavioral disengagement than low-NA individuals, employees with low NA were less likely to vent negative emotions than high-NA individuals, and employees with high self-efficacy were less likely to use venting and emotional support than employees with low self-efficacy. In addition, self-efficacy was found to reduce the negative impact of customer aggression on emotional exhaustion.

Practical implications – Through appropriate training programs, service organizations can foster their employees' sense of trust in their own ability to cope with customer misbehavior and consequently reduce reliance on dysfunctional coping strategies.

Originality/value – While it has been established that verbal abuse from customers constitutes a common experience for many service workers, little is known about the manner in which workers cope with this particular job stressor and even less about the individual differences that may explain coping behaviors in this context. The present paper begins to bridge this gap and contributes to existing literature by showing that in addition to being predictors of dysfunctional coping strategies, both NA and self-efficacy may play a moderating role in the relationship between customer aggression and coping behaviors.



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